CA, CS, CWA at a glance

HAVE a head for numbers? Then you could explore a becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA), Costs and Works professional (CWA) or a Company Secretary. The accounting maestros, CAs, lend rhythm to the cacophony of finances. Running even a mid-size firm without a CA is inconceivable. In that respect, no CA is ever out of job, come hail or recession.

For CWA, you can start the studies right after 10+ 2, taking the Foundation Course. The course trains you in accounting, cost and management, audit and tax functions among others. As a qualified CWA professional, you are responsible for  maintaining and scrutinizing  accounts, preparing  cash budgets, maintaining cash flow statements among others. But it is cost cutting that you would specialise in.

Last but not the least, if you want to pursue the Company Secretaries Course, you have three stages: Foundation, Executive and Professional Programme. Graduate students are exempt from Foundation Programme. Here is a ready reckoner. 


There are three stages: Common Proficiency Test (CPT), IPCC and Final Exam. One can register for CPT soon after Class 10 but taking the CPT is allowed only after Class 10+2. The second stage, IPCC, comprises group I and II. You can clear both the groups and straight away join the Final Course or just clear Group I - IPCE or Integrated Professional Competence Exam and join three years of practical training and in the mean time qualify for Group II. If you want to put a full stop temporarily after Group I and not go for Group II, you can still obtain Accounting Technician Certificate. All you need to do is to clear the four papers and complete one year of work under a CA in practice or in industry. You will be designated as Accounting Technician. Once you have cleared IPCC (group I and II), you can appear to qualify CA Final while serving last 6 months of article training. Candidates are given 15 days of training in general management and communication skill after two years of Article training.

Know more about the programme from former ICAI president Uttam Prakash Agarwal here....

Course details:
CPT teaches you fundamentals of accounting, mercantile laws, money, banking etc. IPCC has six subjects and seven papers in Law, ethics, financial management, income tax and others. After you qualify, you will be sought after in specialised areas of accounting, auditing, corporate finance, corporate law and taxation. You will also be sought as business advisor for preparing financial reports, helping the firm in securing loans, preparing financial projections and determining business viability.

You advice on tax compliance and tax laws which will make you a much sought after professional A lot of CA aspirants take coaching. But should you go for coaching? According to Kishen K Warrier, a 2010 All India CA topper, coaching provides a disciplined approach and can guide on topics but self-study is important. ‘Coaching can give a start-up and guide on topics to cover besides inculcating a disciplined approach, he says. “But self-study is important,” he emphasizes. Kishen says it is a myth that CA programme is tough. Read his experience here....

The CA fee is around Rs 40, 000. Fee concession is given to differently-able students as well as meritorious students. First three rank holders of CPT are exempted from registration and tuition fee of IPCC, and they don’t have to pay Final Course fee if they clear IPCE in first attempt.

Placement and Salaries:
Students are snapped up like hot cakes. While you may be interning in a meager salary of Rs. 7,000 or so, as a qualified CA, you start with no less than Rs. 35,000 in a decent firm.

                                                         Course review: Chartered Accountancy programme



Responsible Institutes
ACA: The Academic Division, The Institute of Chartered Accountants Of India, ICAI Bhawan, Post Box No. 7112, Indraprastha Marg, New Delhi -110002
ACS: The Institute of Company Secretaries of India ICSI House, 22 Institutional Area, Lodi Road,
New Delhi - 110 003
AICWA: Directorate of CAT, ICWAI Bhawan, 3 ,Institutional Area Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110003
Foundation programme is of eight months. It is open to students of all backgrounds - Arts, Science or Commerce stream. After passing Executive programme, a student has to undergo practical training for about 15 months. After successful completion of training a candidate is eligible to be called as an Associate Company Secretary.

Admission to the CS course is open throughout the year. Examinations are held twice a year in June & December. ICSI has 66 examination centres pan India, including one overseas centre at Dubai. The course is recognised by the various universities for admission to PhD course.

For Foundation, the cost is Rs. 3600 and for the Executive programme, the fee is Rs. 7000 for Commerce graduates while for non-Commerce students the fee is Rs. 7750.

Course and Coaching classes
There are four papers in CS Foundation programme that includes English and Business Communication along with Economics, Statistics and others. In the final stage of professional programme, there are 8 papers divided into 4 modules that cover topics like, Drafting, Appearances and Pleadings, Restructuring & Insolvency, Forex management among others. Some students take coaching classes. Puneet Gupta, All-India CS topper 2010, never took any. He emphasizes the importance of practical training.

Read more on how self-study and practical training paved way for Puneet.

Placement, Role and Salaries:
The institute assists students on placements. A candidate gets employed as a legal advisor by a company, guiding the company in matters pertaining to corporate law, corporate governance, ethics, corporate social responsibility, risk management and capital market among others. In the recently held, ICSI Foundation Day event, Anil Murarka, President, ICSI said, “In order to be an efficient CS one should gain thorough understanding of domestic and international regulatory regimes. Possessing knowledge in risk management to help corporates maintain standards of accountability, transparency and ethics is also important as these aspects are gaining wider currency in a globally integrated workplace.”

Corporate firms like Ernst and Young, KPMG, GE who hire CS start with a salary range of Rs. 30,000 and above.

                                                                   Course review: Company Secretary



The three stages of course can be completed at one go. But students unable to clear Intermediate at first shot or later, can try for another seven years. After a lapse of seven years, they can re-register and appear for test for yet another seven years. But only a very few pass the exam.

Exams are held two times in a year, starts on June and December. For June Term Exam one needs to apply before December 5 of previous year and for December, before June 5.

For foundation course, along with oral Coaching, the fee is Rs. 3500. For executive, the fee is Rs. 7,000. Those who take oral coaching, pay Rs. 4,000 extra.

Course details:
You train to be a Cost Accountant.  After course completion, you can start working independently or in partnership with private or public companies. For further academic enhancement, one can enroll for MPhil and PhD. Several Universities recognize ICWA qualification for further studies. IGNOU offers specialized BCom and MCom programmes for ICWAI students. The students can simultaneously study the specialized BCom (Financial & Cost Accounting) programme with ICWAI Foundation/Intermediate Course and specialized MCom (Management Accounting & Financial Strategies) with ICWAI Final Course.

Placement, Role and Salaries:
Companies keep and maintain cost records, and have to get auditing done. Qualified professionals can go on to top management positions to be finance director, internal auditor etc. Realising the importance of the profession in the economic development of the nation, the central government has constituted an all-India cadre known as Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICAS) at par with other Class-I services such as IAS and IFS to advise the government in cost pricing and in framing tax policies. There is provision of campus placement and average salaries start from Rs. 25,000 onwards. of course can be completed at one go. But students unable to clear Intermediate at first shot or later, can try for another seven years. After a lapse of seven years, they can re-register and appear for test for yet another seven years. But only a very few pass the exam. Know more about these three evergreen programmes here...

More course options after Class 12:

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